pets

Cheering up a bereaved pup

Monday, May 12, 2008

Dr Chris Brown answers your pet questions — submit your own or browse our archives.

Question

"Sadly, our 13-year-old female Labrador recently passed away. It's left our 9-year-old male Labrador very sad and lonely. We would love to get a new puppy to be his friend, but I'm concerned that it may be too soon. What do you think?"
— Sonia


Answer

It's incredibly heartbreaking to see such a sad situation as this; a dog that obviously depended on his mate so much, left feeling alone in the world. In fact, I think we often underestimate the bond between two pets. The level of trust, understanding and reliance that they experience is something that's not easily replaced.

But it's not just your dog's emotions you need to manage. Don't forget about yourself here. I'm sure you're equally as devastated and although your head might be thinking about another dog, I'm almost positive your heart isn't ready yet.

My advice is don't rush in. Bringing a new dog into the family has to be done the right way for your, your existing dog's and your new dog's sake. Do it too soon and they face the inevitable comparisons between themselves and a dog you knew and loved for 13 years — a comparison that's just not fair, no matter how wonderful the old dog might have been.

Basically, when you stop wondering whether it's the right time, it's probably the right time for a new dog. In the interim, there are ways to ease the feelings of loss and confusion your lonely little mate is experiencing.

Instead of letting him sit around and be sad, keep him busy. Performing tasks like going for a walk, bringing in the paper and performing basic obedience commands like sit and stay give him a purpose and make him feel like an important member of your family 'team'. Having that role to perform will be the key to him getting back on track...


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